fathom cruise to Dominican Republic - Journey Planner

Took a little time today and filled out all my information for the 4/17 cruise.  One of the things they have on the website is a "Journey Planner".  Here you can select both traditional shore excursions like ziplining and bus tours and also Impact Activities.  The Impact Activities are the raison d'être of fathom.  And they are included in the cost of your cruise (with a couple of exceptions where a nominal $20 fee covers materials).

You can select up to 6 activities over the 3 days you're at Amber Cove.  I decided on 3 (leaving room, in case something comes to me during the orientation/training on the way down).  Tuesday, when the ship docks, I'll be heading out to do some re-forestation.  In the description, this can include either actual planting in deforested areas, or work in a nursery growing trees for eventual planting.

Deforestation is a serious problem in most 3rd world countries, and the Dominican Republic is no exception.  At it's worst point, nearly 90% of the forested land in the country had been destroyed.  Thanks to efforts begun in the 60's, nearly half of that has been restored.  I'll be happy to contribute to their ongoing efforts.  On top of the problems of soil erosion and flooding, locally, deforestation is a major contributor to the release of CO2 in to the atmosphere, so it has global implications.

On Wednesday, it's the Womens Chocolate Cooperative!  I think I'll just quote from the brochure:

"Cacao and Women's Chocolate Cooperative
This specific Chocal Model is executed in the Chocal Factory, located in Altamira, Puerto Plata. The model consists of a mix of production station rotations in the chocolate factory. Factory activities will start off with a warm up dynamic followed up by 4 different work station rotations. A final experience sharing activity is held prior to moving to lunch area. Participants will be informed of specific impact their support had on the production capacity of the factory."

So, seriously...it's Dave and the Chocolate Factory!  On a sober note - I am a hard core capitalist, and I sincerely believe capitalism is the answer to most of the problems in the world.  It has certainly lifted more people out of poverty than all the government spending and foreign aid could ever hope to.  So this women's cooperative, with about 20 employees makes boutique chocolates for sale all over the island.  Those 20 women should be 100.  Making a decent living, as well as experiencing the pride owning a successful business brings.  And setting an example for others on bootstrapping.

While me working the various stations for a half a day isn't going to get them over the top to expansion, fathom bringing in 40, 50 or 100 of us every week just might.  That's the goal, at least...to enable them to increase production, expand, and employ more people.  With any luck "Chocal" chocolates might be available in the States in a couple years!  But, not to worry, I'm sure I'll bring back a few for my friends.

Finally, Thursday, it's pouring concrete.  There is a program for replacing dirt floors in poor homes with good old concrete.  Such a small thing, really, but so important for health, hygiene and safety.  Dirt floors puddle up in the rainy season, grow mold and fungus, harbor all sorts of germs, and also cause breathing problems.  In fact, that floor might be the dividing line between a hovel and a house.  And everyone deserves to live in a house.  Not sure how many homes we can floor in a day, but again...one mans efforts don't amount to a lot, but dozens every week will eventually make an entire community of substandard quarters a bit more livable.  I'm cool with that.

The ship leaves Friday afternoon.  I've left that morning open, as I said, in case something comes up that intrigues me.  More likely, I'll be hobbling around the ship, wishing my 55 year old bones hadn't spent a day mixing and pouring concrete.  But I have a feeling the spiritual reward will make up for the physical discomfort.

So...that's my time on the ground in the DR. 

Of course, I'll be posting about my adventures daily, so stay tuned for that.  And if you are ready to book your trip, give us a call at 760.265.3687 or email daveholman@verizon.net or find me on Facebook  www.facebook.com/daveholmantravel .

btw, and in closing, not only is this a great travel adventure for couples and families, it's kind of a natural for student/business/religious groups.  The experiences, the bonding, the team-building, the good works...if you are ready to lead a group to the DR, or to Cuba on fathom...let me know.  I can help you make it happen.

Sayōnara ima watashi no yūjin no tame